Europe’s voters are pushing back against the expense of embracing green initiatives.


Across Europe, resistance to green policies is on the rise, marking a stark departure from the enthusiasm witnessed in the last European elections five years ago, particularly among young voters advocating for climate action.

The recent surge in energy prices, exacerbated by Russia’s conflict in Ukraine and the broader cost of living crisis, has prompted many Europeans to reconsider the transition away from fossil fuels. Additionally, farmers across the continent have expressed their discontent by blocking roads in protest against environmental reforms.

This backlash against green initiatives could pose a significant challenge for the EU’s Green parties in the upcoming elections scheduled from 6-9 June. The Greens/European Free Alliance (G/EFA), currently the fourth-largest group in the European Parliament, faces the prospect of losing up to 30% of their seats, according to most polls.

Terry Reintke, the lead candidate for the Greens, warns that if right-wing groupings emerge ahead and become part of the majority-forming process, they could obstruct significant portions of the parliament’s agenda.

Such a scenario could have profound implications for the implementation of the EU’s Green Deal for the European economy, which forms a crucial component of the Climate Law aimed at achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. While certain aspects of the deal, such as measures to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions by 55% of 1990 levels by 2030, have already been enacted, many policies determining the path to achieving goals for 2040 remain to be finalized.

Moreover, there is potential for directives that have already been approved to be revisited and revised in response to political pressures. Parties on the right and far-right end of the political spectrum across Europe have been quick to capitalize on public discontent, weighing the costs of decarbonization processes and investments in green transitions against the backdrop of the ongoing cost of living crisis.

In Italy, for instance, far-right League leader Matteo Salvini has vocally opposed the 2035 ban on diesel and petrol car sales, arguing that it is both anti-European and a boon to the Chinese electric car industry. Salvini has made opposition to this ban a cornerstone of his political agenda.

As Europe grapples with the complexities of balancing environmental sustainability with economic concerns and social stability, the upcoming elections will serve as a crucial litmus test for the future trajectory of green policies on the continent.


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